National Tourism E-portal to be launched
ISLAMABAD – Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari on Tuesday said a National Tourism E-portal was going to be launched to provide information and facilitation to foreign and domestic tourists on one click.
Addressing to the 11th session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM June 27-29) in Baku, Azerbaijan, the minister said it should be a matter for collective pride that increasing number of ministers were participating in the Intra-OIC Cooperation for Tourism, said a press release issued here.
He said tourism was a mainstay of our economies and most important source of generating valuable foreign exchange, economic growth and employment in OIC member states. The theme of the session was role of local communities in tourism development.
He said unfortunately, there were several challenges impeding growth and development of this vital sector ranging from lack of peace and stability, weak infrastructural base, weak/ nonexistent regulations and standards.
The minister said the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 led to significant losses in Tourism sector in the OIC member states including Pakistan viz-a-viz tourism receipts, employment in tourism sector.
In post-COVID-19 scenario, owing to immense challenges faced by nascent tourism sector of OIC Countries, there is a need to facilitate knowledge and technology transfers and offer technical assistance for capacity building in member states to increase preparedness for future shocks that could hamper course of development in tourism due to natural calamities or armed conflicts.
The global tourism market was all set to be more competitive in post Covid-19 Scenario, owing to new technological advances, new health and safety regulations, hence it is imperative that OIC member states take necessary steps that promote tourism including Islamic tourism, its allied products, services, as well as provide visa facilitations to potential travelers as enshrined in relevant resolutions of ICTM.
He said that efforts are underway to increase the tourist arrivals in Pakistan after the recovery from the pandemic of Covid-19 as it is an important constituent of our economy, and a key priority of our government. The promotion of tourism among member states of OIC is very close to the heart of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he said.
Mazari while focusing on the theme of 11th session of ICTM said that in order to strengthen the local communities to benefit from tourism industry, the subject of tourism has been devolved to provinces through a constitutional amendment.
Today, each of the four provinces has its own independent tourism department. At the federal level, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is the agency which provides strategic vision to develop tourism sector as a national priority in a sustainable manner and in line with regional and international trends.
The minister also enlightened the participants that GoP has taken number of steps to strengthen the tourism industry in Pakistan including establishing a high-level National Coordination Committee on Tourism (NCCT) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to oversee the development of tourism with a special focus on the development of required infrastructure and framework for tourist facilitation.
Moreover, National Tourism E-portal was going to be launched to provide necessary information and facilitation to the foreign and domestic tourists on one click.
He added that a new publication under the title of “Journey into Light” in English and Urdu languages has been compiled to promote Islamic heritage tourism in Pakistan.
He said Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is planning to hold a conference on Sustainable Tourism in OIC Member States. PTDC has recently signed MoU with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA) under which tourism conferences and fairs will be held in Pakistan consecutively for five years.
In his speech, minister for IPC also apprised the august gathering about the government’s working on various infrastructure projects such as improvements of the road network, tourist boarding lodging facilities under Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZs) and destination management plans in the regions attracting more tourists.
In the end, Federal Minister Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari proposed few steps towards promotion of cooperation in tourism among the brotherly Islamic States. In this effect he proposed, investment opportunities and projects for joint venture in tourism and hospitality sector may be shared among investors from OIC member states.
Moreover, linkages between tourism stakeholders must be established with a view to strengthen joint tourism marketing and promoting cooperation efforts at the sub-regional level as well as at the level of the OIC region as a whole. This could be achieved through promotion of regional and cross-border tourism by offering easy entry and visa services. He said that holding of tourism exhibition can be encouraged and participation of member states can be ensured on reciprocal basis.